Social group takes 90's-style sketch comedy and turns it into an inclusive LGBTQ experience

ByJason Beal KGO logo
Saturday, June 17, 2023
Group takes 90's-style sketch comedy into inclusive LGBTQ experience
A Bay Area community social group ItsQwere performs their own sketch variety show "Mighty Real."

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Calling on the days of "In Living Color," "Mad TV," "The Mickey Mouse Club," and "Saturday Night Live," community social group ItsQwere performs their own sketch variety show, "Mighty Real."

"It's fresh and exciting and just meant to be a good feel-good experience," says Creative Director Tony Taylor.

"Audiences can expect a lot of laughs," adds Co-Director and Actor Ashley Jaye.

"We want our black and brown for folks to be seen," Jaye said. "We want them to feel joy and to laugh with us."

Taylor adds, "we just had an open conversation about what are other ways that we can create programming for our community."

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ItsQwere started in 2018, celebrating the experiences of Black and brown queer folks. "Mighty Real" is a performance and a production that celebrates the queer experience as part of a live performance in front of an audience.

"Mighty Real is inspired by 90's sitcoms," says Jaye. "(It's) going to have a lot of sketches, it's going to have stand up, and we even have some poetry for the show, too."

Taylor says he was inspired by sketch variety shows of the 1990's, which were predominantly white and male, and put the LGBTQ+ experience into their work.

"There's a lot of really funny sketches," Taylor said. "And we also have some song parodies as well. One of my favorite sketches is about what happens when a young guy brings home his partner who is of a different ethnicity, and how their family responds to that. And it's just a really, really comedic opportunity for people to see possibly their own experiences reflected when they've done something outside of the box that their family disagrees with."

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Ashley Jaye says the show's diversity is it's strength. "What makes Mighty Real unique is that the full production of this show is made up of black and brown queer folks," she continues, "we're behind the scenes, we're in front of the scenes, like we're on stage, behind the stage.

The mission of ItsQwere is to create more space for people of color and the LGBTQ+ community to laugh and experience joy, feel safe and be seen.

"The entire cast is women and women of color," Taylor says. "That's just underrepresented. You don't see a cast of women on much of anything, let alone comedy. So I think that's what makes this show really special."

This year's show is special in particular, because the National Queer Arts Festival commissioned ItsQwere to be a part of it's lineup for 2023.

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According to Taylor, "National Queer Arts Festival approached ItsQwere and said, 'Hey, we have this festival coming up next year, we'd love you to be a part of it.'" He adds, "that was the first time in the five years that we've been doing this work that someone has recognized and said, 'Hey, we're going to give you a contribution, and we're going to just let you have free rein and create whatever you want.'"

"This feels big," says Jaye. "Because last year, we weren't a part of any festival, we just sort of threw it together and just performed at Piano Fight in SF. To be actually a part of a larger festival. We're just really excited to be able to bring in more audiences, especially queer folks to see this show."

Taylor says the cast is not just representative of the LGBTQ+ community, but also of their allies.

He says, "it's really nice to have a space where folks who are typically the punchline of jokes can be telling their own stories and are able to laugh at themselves and their own experience and make light of what typically is seen as maybe a disadvantage."

The event takes place in San Francisco on Saturday, June 17, 2023 at 7 p.m. You can learn more about buying tickets here. There is also a show in Los Angeles in July.

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